A thematic analysis of YouTube comments on a television documentary titled ‘Diabulimia: The World’s Most Dangerous Eating Disorder’

Amy Ferrey*, Georgia Ashworth, Mark Cabling, Gabriella Rundblad, Khalida Ismail

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Omitting insulin for fear of weight gain is a type of disordered eating (also labelled as diabulimia) common in type 1 diabetes (T1D) and is associated with a worse biomedical prognosis but is not a formally recognised condition. This research explored the public's opinion of diabulimia as a condition as presented in a television documentary. Methods: We conducted a coding reliability thematic analysis using NVivo software of the original comments to a YouTube documentary ‘Diabulimia: The World's Most Dangerous Eating Disorder’ between 24 September 2017 and 16 June 2020. Results: Of 1424 original comments, 1264 were eligible and uploaded into NVivo 12. The commenters were people with T1D, family and friends, health care professionals, and the wider public who collectively had questions, personal stories and/or opinions. Three main themes were discerned: lack of awareness of diabulimia as a condition; the importance of support; diabulimia as a psychiatric condition in the diabetes setting. Conclusion: This analysis of social media comments found that there is a lack of awareness of diabulimia amongst patients, their families and friends, and healthcare professionals and that there were many commenters who had the experience of disordered eating with T1D. This study has reported on themes that suggest there may be an eating disorder specifically in people with T1D and that further work is needed to understand the diagnostic criteria for diabulimia in order to develop effective treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15025
Number of pages29
JournalDiabetic Medicine
Issue number5
Early online date19 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2022


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